Despite lingering steroids issues and new allegations of a failed amphetamine test dogging Barry Bonds, most San Francisco residents view his latest contract with the team as a matter of dollars and cents — an essential move to keep the team afloat financially.
"The Giants aren’t concerned with building a solid team, they are concerned with filling seats at the ballpark," said Nick Fasanella, 34, a San Francisco restaurateur and former Giants season-ticket holder. "I really don’t think they want him getting the home run record for another team knowing what kind of attendance that could generate."
The Giants and Bonds finally confirmed the slugger’s one-year contract with the team on Monday, a $15.8 million deal laden with performance incentives that could pay the slugger up to $20 million in 2007. But it is also ripe with provisions, including the exclusion of Bonds’ personal trainers from the Giants’ payroll, as well as a contingency that the club can terminate the contract if he comes under indictment in the ongoing BALCO-related court cases.
Matt Wolf, 34, a product manager for Sun Microsystems who has lived in The City for 11 years, agrees with Fasanella that the Bonds signing was an economic necessity, but he believes the finances couldhave been conducted more shrewdly.
"We could have really pushed to sign him for $10 million to $12 million and tried to get a couple of quality free agents with the remaining $5 million to $8 million," said Wolf, who resides in the Nob Hill district.
According to Giants fan Wayne MacDonell, the team saved some face by making sure they wouldn’t lose any money if Bonds was indisposed because of the BALCO court case.
"They have the safeguard of not having to pay him if he gets indicted," said MacDonell, a San Francisco resident who grew up a Giants fan in the East Bay. "Plus, a lot of the contract is deferred, which is good."
Despite some misgivings about Bonds’ character, most San Francisco residents disregard the slugger’s alleged steroids infractions and latest revelation of amphetamine abuse (in which Bonds reportedly said teammate Mark Sweeney supplied him with the drugs) as a defining issue in the signing.
"Baseball’s drug testing was so poor for so long," Wolf said. "I blame Major League Baseball more than Bonds. The league has been so mismanaged for the last 15 years under [MLB commissioner] Bud Selig — if you want to blame anyone, you can blame him."
Nate Simon, a 25-year-old baseball coach and teacher at Riordan High School, echoed many of Wolf’s sentiments. Simon believes Bonds has been unfairly maligned as the poster boy in a sports culture that has constantly been confronted with steroid abuse.
"Shawne Merriman got caught in the NFL using steroids and the media was still talking about him being the defensive player of the year," said Simon, a lifelong San Francisco resident and fan of the Giants.
"If you want to put an asterisk by Bonds’ name, then you should also put an asterisk on all the pitchers he’s faced who have been on steroids."
Still, most Giants backers admit that Bonds could develop an attitude that is a little more direct with his fans.
"I hope he owns up to the fact that a lot of his salary is due to the support he has in SanFrancisco," MacDonell said. "It shouldn’t be such a burden for him to interact with his fans."